Dean Shareski’s attention was caught by Will Richardson’s recent use of the phrase "pushed me to think." He doesn’t say it pushed him to think, exactly, but it did prompt this post:

Will’s recent reflection on Social Computing and subsequent comments,
challenged his thinking. While the gist of his latest discussion
focuses on considering “big picture” thinking, the phrase
“pushed me to think”
caught my attention.
I spend a great deal of energy and time pushing others to think and
considering new ideas and ways to make learning more relevant and
authentic. Often I think I’m like most with strong beliefs in that I’m
less likely to consider alternative thinking.

As someone who’s usually in the role of challenging others’ thinking, Dean is in turn examining his own patterns and beliefs, and the process by which new ideas make their way through his filters: preconceptions, opinions, prejudices, etc.

Mr. Chase noticed it, too:

Dean picked up on a phrase I’ve noticed Will using a few times since
I began reading his blog "pushed me to think." It’s a phrase,
ironically, I hadn’t consciously used before picking it up from Will.
The past two years, though, I’ve caught myself using the phrase in
discussions with colleagues, when encouraging my students to find a new
way around a problem and even when talking to my dad about the
craziness intertwined in parenting my little brother.

Now, I’ve
been pushing and pushed to think for as long as I can remember, but I
cannot think of a time when I was as aware of my thinking, as
reflective on my thinking as I am when interacting with texts and video
and resources afforded me through web 2.0.


A Technorati search for the phrase "pushed me to think" returns 96 results. This may be nothing but semantic sophistry laced with Web 2.0 hyper-awareness, but I wonder about the near-ubiquity of "push" as a descriptor for how changes in thinking occur.  Isn’t the shift from push to pull one of the inherent glories of Web 2.0?  This treads on old ground about the relationship between language and thought, and which determines which, but I’d argue that "pushed me to think" is fast becoming an archaic expression in a 21st century learning context. Our language should flow into the gap, find a way to communicate pull and all its connotations: self-directed, differentiated, intrinsically-motived, invitational, constructed. Sometimes the most challenging ideas are the ones we invite into our worlds, our feed readers; we literally subscribe to them via RSS. Shouldn’t the language we use to describe the evolution of our thoughts reflect that new reality?

Mr. Chase continues:

Through blogging and podcasting and the like the thoughts of
people like David Warlick, Karl Fisch, and Paul Wikinson
are open to me. I can pull from them the pieces that most motivate and
intrigue me and then add my own pieces while crediting their sources.

My own learning has been through the roof since starting this blog last December—a direct result of subscribing to a fantastic, challenging chorus of intelligent writers who pull me to think.


Image credit: PushmiPullyu by rebel rebel.